Appoint a Director of Protocol, International Trade and Commerce with specific responsibilities

"He will appoint a Director of Protocol, International Trade and Commerce who will report directly to the mayor. This person will be charged with the following responsibilities: Serve as the Mayor’s point person for all international commerce activities; To reenergize the partnership of Tampa International Airport, the Port of Tampa, the city of Tampa, Hillsborough County and the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce to develop and expand our regional international trade efforts; Work to attract and identify locations for foreign consulates; Work with the Tampa Port Authority and the Florida Ports Council to expand the Port of Tampa’s infrastructure in order to allow the port to actively pursue significant container business; Work more closely with the Governor’s Office of Tourism, Trade and Economic Development and Enterprise Florida to participate in statewide international trade initiatives; Aggressively target, pursue and schedule trade missions led by the mayor and accompanied by regional partners and local Tampa Bay businesses; Assist the new director of Tampa International Airport (TIA) in pursuing more international flights for TIA."


Mayor passes on new director, but international trade goals remain

Mayor Bob Buckhorn was blunt in an interview with PolitiFact Florida when asked about his promise to create a new director of protocol and international trade.

"I've decided I'm not going to do that,” he said. "In this economy, I didn't want to add additional personnel if I could avoid it.”

Besides, an office already exists to do the job, the Tampa/Hillsborough International Protocol Office. Buckhorn said he wasn't aware of the office before he became mayor, but has been pleased with its efforts coordinating Tampa's relationships with the world.

The office coordinates international visits on behalf of the city of Tampa and Hillsborough County, as well as the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, Hillsborough County Aviation Authority, Tampa Port Authority, Tampa Bay Convention and Visitors Bureau, the University of South Florida and the University of Tampa.

Buckhorn singled out the office's director, Irma C. Bridgeford, for praise.

"She is housed in the chamber's office, and she handles all of our protocol visits,” he said. "I didn't know her before I got over here and wasn't aware of what she was doing, but I've been very pleased with the professionalism she's brought to the table.”

Buckhorn said he also personally works on efforts to lure international companies to Tampa through his seats on the aviation authority, the port authority, and the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development (formerly the Committee of 100).

Finally, Buckhorn said he might add a director of protocol later in his term if he thinks it's necessary.

In ruling on this promise, we're reluctant to rate it Promise Broken, since Buckhorn is still pursuing the goal of bringing more international business to Tampa. He didn't appoint a director of protocol, but that's because another office already exists to coordinate international visits. All in all, we rate this promise Compromise.


Interview with Mayor Bob Buckhorn, Feb. 28, 2012

Tampa Hillsborough International Protocol Office, accessed March 29, 2012

Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation, accessed March 29, 2012